The WVU P .I. Reed School of Journalism will dedicate the Jim&Marsha Blair Multimedia Studio at 11 a.m. Monday, Sept. 19.
In January, the Blairs made a non-designated gift and allowed the school administration to decide its most important need. Acting Dean Maryanne Reed asked that the donation be used to renovate the school’s antiquated broadcast studio into a state-of-the-art multimedia studio and editing suites, and the Blairs agreed.
This gift has allowed the school to upgrade its facilities and offer students cutting-edge technology for a 21st century education,Reed said. We are grateful for the loyalty and support this family has shown the WVU P .I. Reed School of Journalism.
The room was renovated during the summer break and the early part of this fall semester. It includes three sound-proof editing suites, two faculty offices and a sound-proof studio for shooting video and still photography. The room will be a main hub for broadcast students and students working on visual journalism and multimedia projects.
This is our way of giving something back for all of the blessings the School has afforded us,Jim Blair said.
Jim and Marsha Blair are natives of Lonaconing, Md. Jim Blair entered the service in 1970 and was assigned to the JFK Center for Military Assistance, a special operations division. He worked on campaigns to help beef up the American military image as the U.S. government removed troops from Vietnam. He left the military in April 1973 and went to his first newspaper job in North Carolina.
He returned to West Virginia two years later to work at the Republican Delta in Buckhannon. In 1977 he left West Virginia again to work in West Lafayette, Ind., running the Purdue University Exponent.
In 1979 he became the publisher of the Daily Independent in Kannapolis, N.C. As a member of the Kannapolis Chamber of Commerce, he worked with the chamber to computerize and automate its local credit bureau.
In 1982, the Blairs purchased their first credit bureau from CBI , now Equifax, the largest credit reporting entity in the world. The next year the couple purchased a second credit bureau in Johnson City, Tenn., and in 1986 they purchased another in Greenville, N.C.
Jim quit the newspaper industry and went full-time into the credit reporting industry.
The credit bureaus were sold to Equifax in 1997. As part of the sale, Jim carved out several niche markets to provide credit decisioning for the utility and tenant-screening industries. His companies now serve these industries nationwide via the internet.
He serves as chairman of the SOJ Visiting Committee.
Marsha is co-owner and a director of Online Information Services Inc. She served Online as secretary-treasurer and ran the company’s business operations and is now retired. She has served on many community boards, but her passion is the Association for Retarded Citizens, where she chairs Pitt County Group Home Board for Mentally Retarded, Autistic Persons, Inc. She has a profoundly disabled brother and spends a great deal of time helping other families cope with the needs of their disabled loved ones. She also has actively worked with Habitat for Humanity and her church.
She fills her retirement spoiling granddaughters Megan and Ava, traveling with Jim, sewing and decorating and spending time at their beach house.